Alternative Surgical Sterilization

In response to recent published scientific studies and other personal concerns, some dog owners seek a way to ensure that their dog does not reproduce yet still benefit from sex hormones throughout life. At Pets In Stitches, alternative sterilization options – ovary sparing spay (hysterectomy) and vasectomy – are offered.




Removes the ovaries and uterus, generally at the cervix.

Removes the uterus and cervix, while leaving one or both of the ovaries intact for physiologic, health, and/or behavioral reasons.

Surgeon must remove the entire uterus (no “stump”); otherwise, ovarian hormone exposure can cause uterine bacterial overgrowth and pyometra (infection of the remaining uterus tissue). Thus, the surgical incision will be larger than with an ovariohysterectomy.

No heat cycles, no ovarian hormones, no pregnancy possible.

Ovary is still functional, so heat cycle behavior and small amount of bleeding from vaginal membranes can still occur. Still attracted to males, will stand to mate. Still at risk of sexually transmitted diseases, other infection, or trauma from males. Cannot become pregnant since uterus is missing.

Mammary tumors are the only significant health risk remaining after a hysterectomy. Fifty percent of mammary tumors are malignant in dogs. Owners must stay alert to this possibility of mammary tumors as their dog ages.

Should still be confined away from males for the full three weeks of the heat cycle, to reduce the risk of injury from the attempted act of breeding and sexually transmitted diseases. Heat cycles generally will occur every six to nine months.



Removal of testicles. Not able to father a litter of puppies. Typically won’t mate, but some neutered males still engage in mating behaviors.

Removing a piece of the spermatic cord (vas deferens) to prevent transport of sperm from testicles during ejaculation.

Still fully male otherwise and still will exhibit mating behaviors.

Sexually transmitted diseases can also occur.

Eliminates risk of testicular cancers and benign prostatic hypertrophy (enlarged prostate). Reduces risk of prostatitis (infection of prostate).

Does not reduce risk for prostatitis, which can be life-threatening.

Does not always eliminate male marking behavior and should not be expected to stop roaming behavior.

Good fencing and/or leashing and supervision still necessary when outside to control wanderlust. Wandering and attempts to mate can lead to auto injuries or death.

Additional Information

Why Should You Consider?

No single sterilization recommendation can fit every dog and owner. The decision to traditionally sterilize, alternatively sterilize, age to perform such procedures, or leave intact rests on a foundation of science, dogma, and culture.

  • When breeders require sterilization in their puppy contract, yet dog owners still want the benefit of sex hormones.

  • When performance and show dogs will not be used for breeding.

  • For dog breeds that are prone to diseases and conditions that may occur more often when sex hormones are removed. Studies have been performed on breeds such as Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Rottweilers, German Shepherd Dogs, and Vizslas examining various disease and behavior developments. Results indicate that the health and behavioral benefits of keeping sex hormones may outweigh the health risks of removing them. There is enough genetic breed variation that the studies’ results should not by applied to all other breeds. One should not assume that the presence of sex hormones will outweigh the benefits of traditional ovariohysterectomy or neuter for all breeds.

  • Read more about the impacts and what to consider for spaying and neutering your dog.

Before Surgery

We recommend completing or collecting required paperwork to bring with you so we may process your dog’s admission quickly the morning of surgery. These include:

  • Admission Form

  • Copy of any recent vaccination records

  • Copy of most recent rabies vaccine

Publications to Learn More

Alternative Sterilization FAQs

Is alternative sterilization as effective as traditional spay and neuter?

Effective depends on what your goals are. The removal of sex hormones can both increase and reduce risk for various medical and behavioral conditions. The decision to traditionally vs alternatively sterilize is not a simple one and different factors such as age, breed, expected growth size, household environment, other dogs in the home, and behavior influence the decision.

Is there an ideal time for alternative sterilization in a pet’s lifespan?

We recommend performing alternative sterilizations at the same recommended age of traditional sterilization – between 6 to 8 months of age depending on pet size.

Can you perform the spay surgery while they’re pregnant?

Yes. The surgery will terminate the pregnancy. There will be additional  charges if later in the pregnancy. This fee covers the cost of the required supportive fluids to prevent complications and the extra time the surgery entails. You can see these fees on our Pet Services page.

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What does “spay” and “neuter” mean?

Females are spayed and males are neutered. In females, the uterus and ovaries are removed through a small incision in the abdominal wall. Females are then unable to get pregnant. In males, the testicles are removed, leaving the scrotum intact. Removal of the testicles prevents production of sperm and the male will no longer be able to father puppies or kittens 30 days after the surgery. To learn more, read our blog on the Benefits of Spaying and Neutering.

Interested in more frequently asked questions? View more

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